Staying Ahead of the Curve by Focusing on Continuing Professional Development (CPD)

So often, there’s a big celebration or graduation when we complete a course, program or other schooling. When it’s all said and done, we think “well thank goodness that’s over with, now I can get on with my career” and we feel like we’ll never need to go back to school again.

It’s a natural feeling – the relief of being free of studies – but one that should be relatively short-lived. No one is saying you have to go back through a full set of courses or earn a new certification or designation, but for most occupations, the environment and market are constantly changing and those working in these fields need to keep up. They do this by ensuring they are involved in Continuing Professional Development (CPD) through CPD programs. This is perhaps one of the easiest, most enjoyable ways to keep professional knowledge updated and to acquire new skills.

Not all occupations have mandatory CPD, but for some, like HR, immigration and real estate, it is a requirement to keep your education up to date in order to maintain certification, licencing, designation or other association with regulatory bodies. In fields where CPD isn’t mandatory the benefits are still numerous.

What happens at CPD events?

While it depends upon the organization offering the session, the majority of CPD events take into consideration that those attending are busy professionals in the field. Speakers are part of it and most know to bring engaging, enlightening information to the audience in order to deliver as much value as possible for the time and money attendees invest.

The other plus in CPD events is interacting with similarly-minded people. Where else can you find a group of people in the same field and talk to them about their experiences and successes? It’s easy to take advantage of a room full of information and education by attending a CPD event, or log-on to an online session and get active in a discussion.

What are CPD points?

The associations and governing bodies that require CPD will have a points tally for their members in order to keep track of how many events they’ve attended and how much education they have been able to include in their schedule.

For example the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC) has an annual requirement of 16 hours of CPD. This is achieved by attending activities eligible and recognized for CPD hours. Through the ICCRC website, individuals can login to report their hours as well as keep track of what events they have attended and how many hours they have accumulated to date. So, CPD points (or hours) are an essential part of maintaining certification with the ICCRC.

In the HR field, using the Chartered Professionals in Human Resources (CPHR) British Columbia and Yukon as an example, a minimum of 20 hours of CPD is required with a rolling three-year total of 100 hours in order to maintain the CPHR designation. This organization also has a tool when it comes to “how to calculate CPD points.” One the website, designated members can log in, submit their hours and see the record of those hours which are tracked and calculated automatically.

How do I find CPD courses or figure out how many CPD points I need?

Learning about the CPD courses and the number of points (or hours) needed for your particular occupation’s designation will be found on the website of the certification body. In the case of house inspectors, BC Housing provides the licence to British Columbia-based inspectors and explains CPD requirements.

This is perhaps one of the more rigid organizations when it comes to CPD points. On the website, users will see that training (through CPD) accounts for a minimum of 20 of the 40 points needed to maintain licencing. The full 40 points can be achieved through training alone in some cases.

Like most professional certification bodies, the number of points required, and how to earn them is noted on the site – as are the training options that are eligible for CPD points.

On the ICCRC site, there is a listing of events that can be searched by provider, format (in-person, video or webinar), language and the number of CPD hours earned by attending the event. Unfortunately, the one drawback found when looking at the ICCRC event listing is the lack of ability to search by location when it comes to in-person events, so users will have to comb through events to find one in their region. It will become more obvious to regular users of the system which organizations are in their area to make event selection easier.

On the CPHR British Columbia and Yukon site, the search process is a little easier with locations being noted on the listings under the “learn & connect” tab when a user clicks on “professional development.”

CPD events can cover an incredibly broad range of topics and most organizations offer a number of different subjects to look into. This way, professionals who have developed a niche in their business can continue further training to enhance that specific knowledge and become even more valuable to their clients while they ensure they obtain the CPD points or hours they need to maintain designations or licencing.

Do I have to pay for CPD?

Like your formal education, most CPD events are a pay-to-attend format. This is professional education offered a variety of ways. Sometimes it’s a day-long workshop or a conference where the sessions are offered and attendance to either the overall event or the sessions themselves will come with a price tag. Due to the need to achieve CPD points in order to maintain licencing or certification, it’s a small price to pay and can (in almost all cases) be a write off.

Continuing your professional education isn’t just important to stay abreast of the changes in the field, for many occupations, the need to stay up-to-date is mandatory. In an ever-changing and ever-evolving work, staying ahead of the curve is important for any occupation.

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